Persons and Places - The Background of My Life

By George Santayana
(Bryant Press, Paperback, 9781406744514, 272pp.)

Publication Date: March 2007

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PERSONS AND PLACES GEORGE SANTA YAXA From a Harvard University class photograph, 1886 PERSONS ana PLACE S The Background of My Life BY GEORGE SANTAYANA NEW YORK CHARLES SCRIBNERS SONS 1944 CONTENTS CHAPTER PAGE I. Time, Place and Ancestry I II. My Father 10 III. My Mother 30 IV. The Sturgises 56 V. My Sister Susana 75 VI Avila 96 VII. Early Memories 116 VIII. I am Transported to America 130 IX. No. 302 Beacon Street 140 X. The Latin School 148 XL The Church of the Immaculate Conception 1 63 XII. First Friends 1 78 XIII. The Harvard Yard 1 86 XIV. First Return to Spain 203 XV. College Friends 224 XVI. College Studies 238 Index CITY CMO 6811098 PERSONS AND PLACES CHAPTER I TIME, PLACE AND ANCESTRY DOCUMENT in my possession testifies that In the parish church of San Marcos In Madrid, on the ist of January, 1864, a male child, bom on the i6th of the - JL previous December, at nine oclock In the evening, at No 69 Calle Ancha de San Bernardo, was solemnly christened being the legitimate son of Don Agustin Ruiz de Santayana, native of Zamora, and of Dofia Josefina Boreas, native of Glasgow his paternal grandparents being Don Nicolas, native of Badumes, in the province of Santander, and Dona Maria Antonia Reboiro, native of Zamora, and his maternal grandparents being Don Jose, native of Reus, Catalonia, and Dona Teresa Carbonell, native of Barcelona. The names given him were Jorge Agustin Nicolas, his godparents being Don Nicolas Ruiz de Santayana and Dona Susana Sturgis whom I admonished writes Don Joaquin Cabrasco, who signs the certificate with his legal rubrica or flourish, of their spiritual relationship and duties. A shrewd fortune-teller would have spotted at once, In this denselySpanish document, the two English names, Glasgow and Sturgis. Where did they come from, what did they foreboded Might not seeds of my whole future lie buried there And if the diviner had had preternatural powers, he might even have sniffed something important in those last, apparently so effete and per functory words, that Dona Susana Sturgis, who was my mothers daughter by a former marriage and then twelve years of age, had been forewarned of her spiritual relationship and duties not that she should forbear marrying my godfather, my uncle Nicolas, who was a major in the Spanish army, with a wife and child, and 2 PERSONS AND PLACES forty-five years old that was canonical red-tape nothing to the purpose but that she was called by Providence to be really my spiritual mother and to catechize my young mind. It was she that initiated me into theology, architecture and polite society. With parents evidently Catalans of the Catalonians how did my mother come to be born in Glasgow, and how did she ever marry a Bostonian named Sturgis These facts, taken separately, were accidents of travel, or rather of exile and of Colonial life but accidents are accidents only to ignorance in reality all physical events flow out of one another by a continuous intertwined deri vation and those odd foreign names, Sturgis and Glasgow, were in fact secretly allied and their presence here had a common source in my grandfathers character and circumstances and in the general thaw, so to speak, of that age incongruous wreckage of a great inundation. Not that I would nail the flag of fatalism to the mast at the beginning of this retrospective voyage. What we call the laws of nature are hasty generalizations and even ifsome of them actually prevailed without exception or alloy, the fact that these laws and not others or none were found to be dominant would itself be groundless so that nothing could be at bottom more arbitrary than what always happens, or more fatal than what happens but once or by absolute chance...
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